January 07, 2019 / Written by Shayna Korol
Gregory M. Mundis Jr., MD, is an orthopedic spine surgeon and spine surgery fellowship director at San Diego-based Scripps Clinic Medical Group. He also serves as the acting co-director of the medical missionary organization Global Spine Outreach, along with fellow orthopedic spine surgeon and co-director Anthony Rinella, MD.
Dr. Mundis recently spoke with Becker’s Spine Review about Global Spine Outreach, directing a spine surgery fellowship as well as the future of spine surgery education and outreach.
Question: How has your role as acting director of Global Spine Outreach impacted your practice?
Dr. Gregory Mundis: It has impacted my practice in several different ways. The time commitment necessary to be engaged in Global Spine Outreach goes above and beyond my regular medical practice; it has a substantial time impact on my medical practice.
The flipside of that is that it’s amazing to see my patients at Scripps getting engaged in my world apart from my work life. It’s very common for them to give and donate their time and energy to our missions. One patient makes blankets for all the kids who we travel to see and take care of. It’s been fun because it helps create a deeper connection with my patients, which is awesome because strong patient-physician relationships are so important.
Also, there’s no question that operating with other surgeons in different environments expands your skillset. It makes you think differently about the resources that you have, and about what’s really necessary to get the job done. This creates the opportunity to have a positive financial impact on my practice here, where we realize that in certain situations, we may not need to spend as much money to get the job done and equally as well. You also get to operate with other surgeons who do things differently, and you wouldn’t expect to walk away from an outreach trip learning from another surgeon, but you do, which is so rewarding.
Also, there’s all kinds of energy that comes from a surgical mission experience. When you go on a mission there is no financial incentive, there is no time incentive, there’s no incentive at all except helping kids. It’s the purest medicine that can ever be practiced.